Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Should Diablo 3 Remove the Auction House?

As you know, I believe, in hindsight, that the regular Auction House in Diablo 3 is a mistake. There have been several comments by the dev team that indicate that they are leaning to this view as well. Not to mention the crazy inflation due to recent bugs.

Assuming that the dev team comes to the same conclusion, here's a question:

Should D3 remove the auction house in the inevitable expansion?

Now, obviously if the AH is a mistake, the game without the AH would be a better game. But on the other hand, the people who are still playing Diablo 3 are okay with the Auction House.  A significant number of them like it. (Some may be playing in spite of it.)

I think this is one of the hardest questions for MMOs and persistent games. Should you remove a feature that your current playerbase likes, if you think that it will lead to a better game and/or more subscribers? After all, as the saying goes, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

As well, if you can't remove a feature, does that make you less likely to add new features, realizing that you can't go back if they prove to be a mistake?

Perhaps for D3 specifically, the best idea would be to introduce a new "No-Market" game mode. Like Hardcore, characters in that mode would not share a stash with characters in other modes. And that mode cannot access the Auction House or trade items. But gameplay would be the same as Normal.

It will be interesting to see how Blizzard approaches the Auction House in the new expansion.


  1. It's an interesting overall question, but I'm not sure Diablo 3 is the best "test case" if one is looking to apply the principle to MMO's. There is no subscription for D3 and Blizzard already has your money from the box costs. Granted they also make money from the real money AH so there is some risk of profit loss if players leave for removing the other AH. But I would think that the kind of player who uses the RMAH is going to care little if the standard one is removed.

    The question in this case then is, would the removal of the AH as is cause people who were against the concept to change their mind and buy the game? That would be difficult to measure in any objective sense. So at the end of the day, I think Blizzard just needs to ask if the removal of the AH would create a better product for the players currently using the game. Long term profit would be too difficult to measure.

  2. From my own experience, it wouldn't make much of a difference if you remove the AH or not. I've used it once, and frankly it killed the game for me.

    Diablo is all about slaughtering vast waves of monsters, and watching the loot fly out of them like a wonderful treasure filled pinata party.

    Being able to wander into an auction house and just buy some of the more powerful items, for gold or real cash - that kind of devalues the whole thing for me.

    I'd be happy enough if they gave the option to play offline with no AH, and leave the AH there for those who still want to use it - and allow direct IP or LAN games so we can still play multiplayer without the auction house.

  3. That's a strange question. The real money auction house in D3 is their business model. The normal auction house is there to quiet the "pay to win" complaints.

    You're question is basically: "Should they kill their business model with the upcoming expansion?"

  4. well I think if they removed the AH, they'd need to redesign lots of different bits in d3 too. The game has been designed with the AH in mind..

    Higher likelihood that the item dropping is for your class or something like that.. for me personally, I have maybe found 3-4 items I actually use myself...

  5. I'm still going through Diablo 3 casually (yar I started late :P) and I find the auction house to be a good gold sink for me. It relieves any stress of "oh did I sell something important" or having to spend gold on crafting.

    Also since I'm going through with a team, it makes town visits a lot faster since everything just gets sold. No more need to compare if you picked up something better because odds are, it's not as good as something you bought.

    I do agree that it makes the game easier than it should be though, but that's how it is.

    A no-market mode would be good, alternatively they can just add a higher item tier that cannot be marketed and must be acquired either through craft or ye olde fashioned twirly drop. ;)

  6. From what I understand, the AH was a way to buffer against random stat loot system (and lack of meaningful in game gold sinks) not as a main source of revenue. In fact, I highly question the real money AH is the primary D3 business model many commenters are suggesting it is.

    It feels more like an experiment to me.

    To be honest, I think the loot system in D3 is what needs work, since players like myself will use the AH to make up for the fact that some pieces of gear haven't been upgraded in 10+ levels because of the strange stat combos from the random loot generator.

  7. The auction house exists because a massive amount of players in D2 traded a lot of loot, and there were a lot of complaints about scammers; same goes for the RMAH. Adding the auction house in D3 was really nothing but a matter of giving players a mechanism to do what they were already doing.

    There's nothing out there forcing you to use the AH, and you can definitely play and do well without it, same as you could in D2.

  8. I still think there can be ways to change the system to minimize the AH while still keeping it useable in some form. One suggestion I've seen that could be iterated on is something along the following lines:

    A self found quality bonus. You find an item and it gets a quality rating (20% or so). Selling on the AH lowers the quality (maybe 5%? 10% 20%? )

    This can allow you to get some upgrades for bad luck but still you have a nice bias for self found gear. If the quality lowering is less than the full 20% it lets the things you find have a bit higher value than the items being flipped from the AH as well.

  9. To get rid of the AH, they would first have to make drops more useful. They could add in some BoE type stuff like the bosses in WoW have, that you could actually try to farm instead of just hoping that 1 out of every 1000 drops is worth a crap. The stuff that drops is seriously bad, and that would need to be revamped.

  10. I made this comment on a previous post about the AH, but I think it's still relevant.

    While I can conceptually see why the AH has the negative effect it does in D3, I am still left wondering why it does, when other games with similar loot mechanics manage to not self-destruct with the presence of an AH, such as WoW.

    The only thing I can think of is that the majority of desired loot is BoE or BoP, which greatly limits their availability, while from what I understand, the majority of loot in D3 is actually unbound, so you can just flip it when you have something better and recoup your costs.

    Instead of doing something as drastic as dumping the AH, maybe a more efficient solution would be to rework item ownership in general.